Reading for Wednesday, Jan 11: John 8
This is probably my favorite chapter in John so far. It’s so rich with teaching: the contrast between truth and lie; the belief that Jesus is the light of the world; the hope that in Him we have eternal life. These are themes that John puts on full display here in this chapter.
I could write pages and pages on the opening scene with the woman caught in adultery. The Pharisees conceived this perfect plan: if Jesus condemns her for her sin, He stands in violation of Roman law — because the Jews, under Roman occupation, were incapable of carrying out their own death sentences. But if he concedes to Rome, He’s in danger of violating a greater law in their eyes: the law of Moses.
But Jesus has a perfect plan of His own: grace. They drag this woman before Him and demand a verdict, but Jesus won’t dishonor her by even looking at her shameful state. Instead, he stoops down and begins writing in the dirt. When they press Him for an answer, He acknowledges her sin and the just punishment: death. But He adds a crucial caveat: if you’re going to play judge and jury, you’d better be sure you’re without sin first. This calls to mind His teaching from the sermon on the mount re: the speck in your brother’s eye and the plank in your own.
I love what Jesus says to her: “Where have your accusers gone? Has no one condemned you?” When she looks around and tells Him they’ve gone, His reply is dripping with mercy: “Then neither do I condemn you.” As Paul will tell us later, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (Rom 8.1)”. But Jesus doesn’t just leave her where she is; He calls her into a new life. “Now go, and sin no more.”
As we wrestle with sin, we can take courage that our relationship with Christ secures for us this same graceful position, a place devoid of condemnation before God. However, we should also heed Jesus’ words here; grace should never be abused. Paul reminds us of this, too, in Romans 8.
V12 – Jesus declares to be the light of the world. In Isaiah 49.6, Israel was commanded to be a light to the Gentiles. “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Where Israel fails at this call, Jesus is successful. Through Jesus, people of every tribe, race, nation, and tongue can enter into covenant relationship with God. But the religious leaders of Jesus’ day have difficulty with this. They perceive Jesus as a threat to the establishment — and more pointedly, as a threat to their position. But v30 tells us “Even as He spoke, many believed in Him.”
Chapter 8 gives us a full understanding of the relationship between grace and obedience. Jesus says we are all slaves to sin (v7, 34), yet through obedience to Him, we might taste eternal life (v51). This is the truth that sets us free (v32).
What are your thoughts as you read through chapter 8? What questions emerge for you as you reflect on what we’ve read so far?